“Portrait of a Young Woman” was painted in 1632. Rembrandt would have been about 26-years-old, and he would have just moved to Amsterdam the year before. He was still two years away from marrying Saskia, who would feature in so many of his paintings. He still had so many great works and such a full life ahead of him at that point.
In which I issue a photoshop challenge to my art-inclined friends.
Art, after all, doesn’t just exist in the time it was created. It speaks to us from the time of its creation, sometimes whispering and sometimes screaming, always waiting for us to hear. And this particular painting has a lot to tell us about influence, privilege, crime and humiliation.
Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel was the most forward-thinking rabbi in Amsterdam, if not the world, in the 1600s. He was considered the most famous Jew in Europe then, but he struggled to find respect among his neighbors. He’s still an inspiring figure today.
So what does all this say about Rembrandt and Vermeer? Can we draw any conclusions about the two men based on the work they produced? As a writer myself, it’s hard for me to imagine that you can separate an artist from their creation. One depends upon the other.
If there’s one thing that separates humans from the other animals, I’d say it’s our immense talent for creating divisions among ourselves. Of creating an “us” vs. a “them.” Of tribalism.
Jews, I’m sorry to say, are no different.
At long last, Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” is due for a bath and a little TLC. Perhaps soon, it will be a little easier to see the details Rembrandt committed to immortality.
According to a recent story in the Daily Beast, the true story of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist may be ready to unravel.
Few people realize that during his own lifetime, Rembrandt was equally — if not more — known for his printmaking. There are about 300 paintings attributed to the artist. He also made 290 plates for printmaking, and each of those was used to make “scores, even hundreds” of impressions of each.
The Dutch had always been close to water, of course. It’s hard not to be when much of your nation is below sea level anyway. There’s an old saying that “God made the world, but the Dutch made the Netherlands,” and that’s certainly true when you consider that through the use of polders, dykes and sheer willpower, the Dutch pulled much of their land out of the sea.